Distributed normal faults in the Niobrara Chalk and Pierre Shale of the central Great Plains of the United States

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

Normal faults occur in the Niobrara Chalk and Pierre Shale in numerous localities in South Dakota, Nebraska, and Kansas. Lakeshore outcrops provide a window into strata that otherwise outcrop poorly. Various criteria were used to distinguish mass-wasting features from faults that formed at the subsurface. Locally, these faults have variable orientations and throws that vary from centimeters to tens of meters. In the Niobrara Chalk, the fault zones typically display well-developed striae, occasional slickensides, limited to absent damage zones, and dilational jogs with coarse, microvein calcite fill. In places, the faults are associated with gentle monoclines and folds, but elsewhere they occur in horizontal strata. A weathering bias suggests these faults are more common than observed. At any one locality, these faults have been or could be attributed to local tectonism, differential compaction, and/or glacial rebound. If due to tectonism, taken in aggregate, they indicate fairly widespread (albeit low-strain) activity, which is consistent with the idea of a critically stressed continental interior with migrating sites of faulting. An alternate and preferred hypothesis is that these are polygonal faults due to diagenetically driven deformation in fine-grained mud rocks. Subsurface polygonal fault systems have been described from the Niobrara Chalk and Pierre Shale in the Denver-Julesburg Basin area in eastern Colorado. Smectitic clays, associated with polygonal faulting elsewhere, are abundant in these units. The fault kinematics (extension in multiple directions), widespread character, and other traits are consistent with an origin by diagenetically driven deformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-334
Number of pages16
JournalLithosphere
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

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chalk
normal fault
shale
faulting
outcrop
glacial rebound
continental interior
slickenside
monocline
mass wasting
plain
fault zone
compaction
mud
fill
calcite
weathering
kinematics
fold
clay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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Distributed normal faults in the Niobrara Chalk and Pierre Shale of the central Great Plains of the United States. / Maher, Harmon Droge.

In: Lithosphere, Vol. 6, No. 5, 01.01.2014, p. 319-334.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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